When Pa brings home a turkey poult to raise for Christmas dinner, hilarious complications ensue in this heartwarming family story set in 19th-century New York City.
The family of six lives in a crowded three-room flat, and they quickly discover that there isn’t room for a growing turkey in their small kitchen. Pa first builds a pen for Alfred the turkey on the fire escape and then a larger pen hung from pulleys on the clothesline. After complaints from the neighbors, Pa moves the turkey into the flat’s single bedroom, and the family has to sleep in the kitchen and parlor. When Christmas arrives, the children can’t bear to eat Alfred for dinner, so they give him (as a pet) to their downstairs neighbor for her Christmas gift. The cleverly constructed text is full of understated humor and witty dialogue, with a satisfying conclusion describing the family’s simple but happy Christmas celebration. Cole’s loose watercolor-and-ink illustrations skillfully evoke the old-fashioned setting and busy life of a New York tenement community. He effectively shows the connected clotheslines, backyard privies and outdoor neighborhood markets of another era, and each character has a distinctive personality.
Young fans of historical fiction series will enjoy this, as will anyone who enjoys a funny family story about Christmas preparations. (Picture book. 4-9)